This week, Greg Epstein, an atheist and humanist, was elected the new president of Harvard University’s organization of chaplains. He was selected by more than 40 chaplains from more than 20 different spiritual traditions. He said, “We don’t look to a god for answers. We are each other’s answers.” In essence, he was saying, “We are each our own god or a god for one another.” Nearly 40 percent of the students enrolled there identify as atheist or agnostic and that trend is growing across the nation in all age groups, but more so among young adults, according to the Pew Research Center. A great percentage of people openly admit to disbelieving in the God of the Bible, and an unknown percentage of any age group prove it by their daily choices.
We are witnessing a repeat of what happened to Israel after the death of Joshua. A generation, which can be a specific age group or those of any age living at a particular time, is arising that does not know God. Samuel wrote, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:11-12). We know that gods are what we make them. There can be a god of science, of politics, of military power, or of our own reasoning — anything that displaces our belief of and confidence in God.
Israel bore the natural consequences of serving other gods. “And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:14-15). This sounds a lot like what we are experiencing through our disaster and disgrace in Afghanistan. When the pride of our power is broken, will we not become a target for our enemies all around?
The gods of human leadership and military power are the precipitators of greater weakness and suffering to come. Likewise, the unnatural “natural” disaster of unprecedented drought spreading across the western U.S. will almost certainly be attributed to global warming, as will other weather-related catastrophes. Even though the globe may be warming, the god of science removes the disasters from the realm of blessings and cursings by the God who created the environment to function as it does, based on obedience and disobedience.
Living in any time, and especially in the present dispensation, we need to look to our great God for answers. King David said it well, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God (Psalm 146:5).